Four hundred and fifty of Australia’s 828 known species of bird can be found in the wet tropics and 12 of them — including the southern cassowary, golden-shouldered parrot and Victoria’s riflebird — are endemics found nowhere else in the world. We’ve selected five birdwatching spots within easy reach of Cairns.
From the coast to the rainforest-draped hills, Brisbane is a biodiversity hotspot bursting with interesting birdlife. A range of habitats – including dry forest, grasslands, wetlands, and even backyards – supports an impressive number of birds. “We have the benefit of the overlap between the northern tropical birds and the southern birds,” says David Niland from Birds Queensland. “Plus we have a few species that are unique to southeast Queensland and northern NSW, such as the black-breasted button-quail.” The coast of Brisbane is home to a range of marine birds – from your standard pelican to rather more unusual visitors. “Out on the islands you can see the beach stone-curlew,” says David. “From time to time you can see black swans and ducks feeding on the saltwater estuaries too, which is a bit unusual.” It’s tricky to pick just a few species from a total of around 400, but we’ve compiled a list of 20 Brissy birds you might encounter around the city.
The small, superb fairy-wren is endemic to eastern Australia, ranging in habitat from south Queensland to South Australia’s Adelaide region, as well as throughout Tasmania. Males are easily distinguished from females by their distinctive colourings: mostly blue, with a black band across their back and head. This blue turns iridescent when the male is looking for a mate.
More bad news for the honeyeater whose numbers remain at an abysmal 400.
DARREN HAMLEY is a coordinator of gifted education at Willetton Senior High School in Western Australia. Earlier this year he asked his students to plan an expedition to photograph every species of cockatoo in Australia. They researched the best location to see each of the fourteen species and planned the trip from beginning to end researching weather, equipment, camping locations and where to actually find the birds. All but one was captured— the Palm Cockatoo, which is isolated by floodwaters.
The emus inability to fly has finally come in handy.